Celebrity Roasts That Caused An Uproar

There's just something about a celebrity roast that's so satisfying to watch. Time and time again, we've seen A-listers sit on their throne of shame in front of an audience, ready to begin the onslaught of deprecating humor aimed their way from friends and industry peers.

So, where did this cruel (albeit very entertaining) tradition come from? New York's iconic Friars Club, of course. According to the club's website, the birthplace of the celebrity roast was formed in 1904. As celebs and the press alike used the opportunity to poke fun at one another behind closed doors, the club earned its motto: "We only roast the ones we love." As psychology professors Thomas Ford and Mark Ferguson analyzed in a study (via Pacific Standard), roasts are popular because the audience gets a "sudden boost in self-esteem." What happens, however, when the roast pushes boundaries past jovial banter? As the outlet points out, "Sometimes the quickest way to get an audience to feel superior –to guarantee a laugh — is to marginalize your target." The issue in that, according to Ford and Ferguson, "[Is] that they create a social environment more accepting of prejudiced forms of expression." 

With celebrity roasts now available to the masses online, have they sometimes gone too far? We'll let you decide. Here are some celebrity roasts that caused an uproar.

Caitlyn Jenner was too busy talking about herself to roast anyone else

Caitlyn Jenner is a prime example of a controversial figure that went on a celeb roast as a roaster and got annihilated in the process — instead of the roastee in question. She's certainly stirred up controversy in the past, including the time she shocked Ellen DeGeneres on the comedian's talk show over her initial thoughts on marriage equality.

During Alec Baldwin's roast of September 2019, Jenner got the short end of the stick, with even more brutal insults thrown her way instead of the notoriously angry New Yorker. As The Daily Beast recapped, some of the most brutal jabs came from Blake Griffin, who quipped, "Caitlyn completed her gender reassignment surgery just a couple of years ago, 'finally confirming that no one in that family wants a white d**k.'" To make matters worse, Jenner was also called out for being a Trump supporter by Chris Redd, who joked she was "like the Auntie Tom of the trans community." Cringe.

Naturally, Twitter was abuzz during the show, especially when Jenner herself took her turn as the roaster. Instead of defending the reality TV alum, fans decided to roast her, too. According to Decider, social media users thought she was making "everything about herself" and not roasting anyone else. We have a feeling she won't be back to the Comedy Central event.

Snoop Dogg's now-unsettling celebrity roast

At the time of Donald Trump's roast in 2011, he was still only viewed as a television personality and shrewd businessman. During this time, he was also seemingly on good terms with a variety of different celebrities, such as Snoop Dogg. Per Billboard, once upon a time, POTUS only had positive things to say about the rapper, and the feeling was, in fact, mutual.

So, when the time came for Snoop to roast The Donald, he delivered a few jokes at the future president's expense. It was the following that was perhaps the most poignant: "Donald says he wants to run for president and move on into the White House. Why not? It wouldn't be the first time he pushed a black family out of their home." The audience laughed in shock, as the camera panned to the crowd that showed an embarrassed Ivanka Trump and a grinning Donald.

Although the two appeared to be on good terms then, things certainly changed once Trump became president and the rapper released his "Lavender" music video in 2017. It saw Snoop parodying the POTUS with a clown called "Ronald Klump," and involved him shooting the president with a toy gun. Trump's reaction? Starting a Twitter feud, of course.

Amy Schumer took a low blow at Steve-O

Nowadays, Amy Schumer is known for her controversial brand of comedy. Of course, shooting to the top of the A-list meant that there were a lot of people who criticized the star, from her mixed messages about body image to rumors about her diva tendencies. Through it all, the I Feel Pretty actress has appeared totally unbothered. "Most people don't know what it's like to open social media in the morning and hear you are physically, socially and politically worthless," Schumer's pal, Lena Dunham, told The New York Times. "She's titanium."

One incident that seemed to test Schumer's skills of apathy, however? A joke she told during Charlie Sheen's roast of 2011, which was aimed at fellow roaster, Steve-O. Speaking about his friend and fellow Jackass star, Ryan Dunn, who passed away in a car crash, the comic quipped, "I truly am, no joke, sorry for the loss of your friend, Ryan Dunn. I know you must have been thinking, 'It could have been me,' and I know we were all thinking, 'Why wasn't it?'" Some audience members booed, while Steve-O himself showed no emotion.

The public backlash got so bad that even Steve-O had to take to Twitter and ask fans to forgive her. As for Schumer? She refused to apologize, declaring to Radar Online, "If anyone feels offended then they are justified but I don't think it was out of line."

Courtney Love's unheard pleas at a celebrity roast

Pamela Anderson's roast of 2005 was seen as one filled with good-natured fun. As the Los Angeles Times noted at the time, the most controversial aspect of the event was that it was "nearly overtaken by singer Courtney Love, who kept interrupting the proceedings with outrageous and apparently inebriated behavior." Oh, Courtney.

However, looking back at some moments of the roast now has been completely jarring — and even caused an uproar only years after it aired. The worst part about it all? All the controversies had the same undertone. As TMZ unearthed in 2017 in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Love actually spoke out about the disgraced producer — but wasn't taken seriously. When comic Natasha Leggero asked what advice she had for female Hollywood hopefuls on the Comedy Central red carpet, the singer bluntly said, "If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don't go." As for the roast itself? Andy Dick groped Anderson and then tried to unbutton Love's shirt, which led her to slap him. 

Looking back at it now, the evening served as a shocking reminder at just how much times have truly changed.

A morbid line that shouldn't have been crossed

Justin Bieber's 2015 was precisely what anyone would have expected, filled with jabs at the then-21-year-old's brushes with the law, relationship with Selena Gomez, and that haircut.

While all of those jokes were taken in jest, it was another topic of conversation that made headlines. With The Fast & The Furious franchise star Ludacris sitting at the event as a fellow roaster, some comics took it upon themselves to aim jokes at his late co-star, Paul Walker, who died in a car accident two years prior. According to CinemaBlend, the main culprits were Pete Davidson and Jeff Ross. The two central jokes in question were Ross', "'Move b**ch, get out of the way!' Is what Paul Walker should've told that tree," and Davidson's, "Just this past year, Justin got arrested for drag racing. Unfortunately, it wasn't with Paul Walker." We don't know about you, but we're certainly cringing.

After the taping, a disappointed Ludacris spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, explaining, "There were some Paul Walker jokes that I didn't feel like were appropriate. I was told and promised that they would edit those out." Thankfully, that's exactly what happened. As a Comedy Central spokesperson told the outlet, "Sometimes the line is discovered by crossing it. The Paul Walker references will not be in the telecast."

Alec Baldwin got roasted by his own daughter

Sometimes, it seems like Alec Baldwin is known less for his legendary roles in 30 Rock and Beetlejuice and more for his sometimes erratic off-camera behavior. When it came time for his roast in 2019, audiences were ecstatic for the skewering of the famed actor.

Baldwin took countless jabs in good spirits — even when his daughter, Ireland, took to the stage as a surprise guest. She quickly went for the jugular: taking a stab at the infamous voicemail her father left her back in 2007. Need a refresher? According to the New York Daily News, when Ireland was just 11 years old, Alec called her and left a tirade of insults after she refused to answer the phone. "You don't have the brains or the decency as a human being," he ranted, before adding the ultimate shocker: "You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, okay?" He ended his attack by brutally hanging up.

Fast-forward to the roast, where Ireland quipped, "It's good to be here. I almost didn't even know about it because I haven't checked my voicemails from my dad from the last, like, 12 years?" The joke must have hit a sore spot for the actor — especially since he has to live with what he said every day. As he told Good Morning America (via Page Six) back in 2017, "It's a scab that never heals." Ouch.

Bob Saget faced a full house of insults at his celebrity roast

Bob Saget is mainly known by the masses as the good-hearted Danny Tanner from the hit sitcom, Full House. In reality, the family-man persona he had to put on for the show is a far cry from the actor's true nature. Also known by some for his extremely NSFW stand-up routines, it was no wonder the latter reputation would be brought center stage during Saget's 2008 Comedy Central roast.

What's most ironic, however, is that Saget was actually offended by some of the vulgar jokes made at his expense. According to the New York Post, the actor thought some of the roasters went "too far," such as his Full House co-star, John Stamos, who kicked the show off with the following quip about Saget and (uh-oh) the Olsen twins — who were only nine months old when the show began filming: "The whole time Bob and I were doing Full House, he was also hosting America's Funniest Home Videos. His entire job consisted of saying 'Take a look at this,' which is what he used to say to Mary Kate in her dressing room." Yeah, it's uncomfortable, we know.

As Saget later told the outlet, "Anybody who talks about my TV kids — that upsets me the most." We definitely believe he was offended, considering he was the ultimate TV dad, having once changed the girls' diapers on set. Aw!

The celebrity roast of a celebrity roaster

2016 saw the roast of Rob Lowe — or it was at least supposed to. Instead, the roasters had another target in mind: Ann Coulter. As it turned out, the conservative commentator only came on the show as a roaster to promote her book, In Trump We Trust. Naturally, the digs at her expense didn't stop. As Deadline recapped, Pete Davidson brutally called her a "racist c**t," while comedian Nikki Glaser quipped, "What is it like to be a real-life supervillain. The only person you'll ever make happy is the Mexicans that dig your grave."

If all of the comedians ganging up on Coulter wasn't enough, the audience got involved, too, booing her when she herself took to the stage. The negative response was so horrendous that, in 2019, producer Jeff Ross told Newsweek that Coulter was one of the "worst performers" to go on the show. "She just wasn't there to have fun," he added. "She wanted to sell her book."

As for Coulter, she had some strong words to share after her very public skewering. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter following the Comedy Central event, the commentator was asked why she thought the roast became about her. "I have no idea," she replied, "but it probably has something to do with Comedy Central's corporate decision to move away from comedy." We have a feeling that those wounds remained fresh for quite some time.

Ted Danson's highly-controversial moment on stage

It takes a lot to offend an audience at a comedy event catered toward rude and unmerciful humor. Unfortunately, that's precisely what happened during Whoopi Goldberg's 1993 roast at the Friars Club in New York.

According to AP News, the evening started going sour when the Sister Act star's then-boyfriend, Ted Danson, took to the stage as a roaster. The issue? He wore full blackface. Making racial jabs at both Goldberg and audience members, the former Cheers actor managed to offend "Mayor David Dinkins, talk show host Montel Williams and others who said his performance was over the line." While Williams left the show early with his "visibly upset wife," Dinkins issued a statement after the event (via The New York Times), declaring he was "embarrassed for Whoopi."

The event was so controversial that no videos of the evening are available to the public. As Roger Ebert wrote in a review of the evening, audience members were so appalled that some simply ended up leaving before Danson's set was over. As for Goldberg? ″Whoopi knew and so did all the black performers what was going to happen," chairman of the Friars Club Bob Saks told AP News, adding he was surprised at the backlash. "It's always way over the line — it's supposed to be."

Dennis Rodman's jokes fell flat at this celebrity roast

Retired NBA star Dennis Rodman is known for his whacky behavior. He's kicked cameramen during televised events, allegedly stole yoga merchandise, and even "married" himself. "I was becoming so bored about life," he once reflected to AP News. "I had to do something to spark my life."

Indeed, Rodman hasn't failed to spark controversy amongst the masses, with stunts including his very bizarre relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Calling a man known for executing people "more like a big kid," Rodman revealed to CNN that he's received many death threats over the matter in America. Considering he's been met with such backlash, it's begged the question: Should the star keep his controversial friendship to himself?

Rodman certainly didn't do that during Bruce Willis' roast of 2018; in fact, he only amplified the public's disapproval. Booed by the audience when he took to the stage as one of the roasters, things got even worse when he tried to land jokes. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Rodman attempted to poke fun at Willis' choice in movie roles, quipping, "You keep making these bomb movies like Kim, but at least he is smart enough not to release his." As the situation got progressively tenser, Rodman apologized for fumbling his set. One success of the evening, however? When Jeff Ross finally elicited laughs, telling the crowd to "give it up for our next secretary of state, Dennis Rodman."

Gilbert Gottfried's legendary roast of all roasts

Imagine a public skewering so bad, it forced an industry great to declare he's finished with the Friars Club. It's a tale so epic that it's hard to believe it's true — yet that's exactly what happened when Shecky Greene witnessed a NSFW set by a fellow comedian during Freddie Roman's roast in 2014.

As the legendary story goes, it was entertainer Gilbert Gottfried who upset the iconic comedian. Greene retold the story on SiriusXM's Ron and Fez Show (via The Interro Bang): "He gets on and goes into a tirade, and jokes — but so filthy ... I was in the navy and I was with the tough guys and everything — I never heard that kind of language ... And he got dirtier and dirtier so I got up and I said, 'That's it.'" Claiming he was "ready to kill" Gottfried, he instead tore up his membership card and vowed to cut all ties with the club.

So, what was even said? Well, unless you happened to be there, the tale still remains a mystery. "I'm kind of glad that there's no recordings," Gottfried told the Ron and Fez Show (via The Interro Bang), adding, "because it's built such a mystic thing about it, that nothing could live up to it."

Chevy Chase's solo uproar over his own celebrity roast

Chevy Chase was once at the top. Part of the original Saturday Night Live lineup, he was liked by the masses — something to which co-stars like Dan Akroyd, who once called the comic one of his "largest-hearted" friends, could attest (via The Washington Post). When it came time for Chase's first roast in 1990, it appeared the actor was at the height of his popularity. Per Entertainment Weekly, the evening was a star-studded affair, packed with A-listers like Paul Newman and Robert De Niro.

However, during the course of Chase's career, things changed, and the National Lampoon movie star became better known for his sometimes shady behavior. By the time Chase's second roast occurred in 2002, it looked like the actor had lost most of his friends — literally. According to Entertainment Weekly, none of Chase's close pals showed up. As the outlet noted, he walked on stage "where he blinked into the television cameras." As comics he'd never even heard of proceeded to skewer him, he simply sat in shock. Finally, Chase took to the stage himself, and while looking directly into the camera, managed to muster, "That hurt." Oof.

The night would go down as legendary, albeit ridiculously uncomfortable. Calling the roast "painful," Comedy Central's former SVP of Original Programming and Development, Lou Wallach, recalled to Paste Magazine, "You looked at this guy's stone face the entire time — it was so embarrassing."